UVA Advances to National Championship Game In Nerve-Jangling Fashion

April 6, 2019 By Whitelaw Reid, wdr4d@virginia.edu Whitelaw Reid, wdr4d@virginia.edu

Wahoo fans thought they had used up all their miracles. But there was at least one left, and it was an ending for the ages.

A game after Mamadi Diakite’s heroics, it was Kyle Guy’s turn.

Have there been three more clutch free throws in the history of basketball than the ones Guy hit on Saturday night at the Final Four in Minneapolis with .6 seconds remaining to give the University of Virginia a 63-62 win over Auburn University?

Probably not.

Guy’s free throws, which he made after being fouled on a 3-pointer, moved UVA into its first-ever NCAA championship game on Monday night – and had UVA fans around the world a bit excited.

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl looked like he was about to lose his mind after his player, Samir Doughty, was called for the foul on Guy.

However, CBS’s in-broadcast official – citing the fact that defenders need to allow offensive players the chance to land after taking a shot – said the referees made the correct call.

“Controversial or not, it doesn’t matter – we got the win,” Guy said afterward. “I can’t even express how I feel right now.”

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Kyle Guy being fouled during the game
It was clearly a foul. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

Neither could the Wahoo fans watching as Guy – who went public with his personal battle with anxiety after last season’s NCAA Tournament loss to University Maryland Baltimore County – calmly sank all three free throws.

“I could lie to you and say I knew I was going to hit them – but I was terrified,” said Guy, who also made a 3-pointer moments before to trim Auburn’s lead. “I had confidence in myself, but  … this is what we dream of and for me to be able to do this for our team, I couldn’t be happier.”

Here’s a sampling of the reactions on Twitter:


Moments before tip-off, UVA President Jim Ryan -- who made the trip to Minneapolis to cheer on the ’Hoos, took in the scene at U.S. Bank Stadium – and had a little fun with CBS commentator Charles Barkley (an Auburn alumnus).

Ryan, just like most ’Hoos fans, could hardly contain his excitement.

Things couldn’t have started any better for UVA. On the very first possession of the game, UVA forced Auburn into a shot-clock violation! But to the chagrin of Wahoo Nation, the ’Hoos trailed by three at halftime.

Former UVA player Norman Nolan was optimistic.

In Charlottesville, students, faculty and fans packed the McIntire Amphitheatre for a viewing party.

Crowd gathered in the Amphitheater to watch the Final Four
Though the game was half a continent away, fans packed Grounds for a viewing party. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, UVA Communications)

As the second half started, the team gave them something to cheer about.

In the second half, De’Andre Hunter – who had gotten off to a slow start – came out blazing with a couple nice moves to the hoop and a block of a Bryce Brown shot.

De'Andre Hunter shooting the basketball during a game
De'Andre Hunter gave the 'Hoos a spark in the second half. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

Mamadi Diakite also joined the swat brigade as the ’Hoos vaunted defense began to wear down the Tigers.

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, UVA had seven blocks and Auburn had none. Still, the ‘Hoos led just 44-43.

Basketball players blocking shot by opponents
Nope. (Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics)

However, moments later Kihei Clark and Ty Jerome hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put the ’Hoos up, 50-43.

When Jerome got a friendly roll on an off-balance runner in the lane and then hit a 3-pointer that led to CBS commentator Bill Raftery exclaiming, “Send it in, Jerome!” – an homage to a call he had for a former University of Pittsburgh player’s dunk that broke the backboard in 1988 – Virginia had a 10-point lead and was on its way.

Or so it seemed.

Auburn went on a run and – before fans could even process what had happened – UVA trailed by four points with under a minute to play.

But then Guy hit a 3-pointer from the corner and made the clutch free throws that Wahoo Nation will be talking about for years to come.


As collective experiences go, this was a big one for UVA fans in Charlottesville and around the world.

Meanwhile, in Charlottesville: 

Fans flood the streets cheering after win
The celebrations spread throughout Grounds and Charlottesville on Saturday. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)


Media Contact

Whitelaw Reid

Manager of Strategic Communications University of Virginia Licensing & Ventures Group